The Socorro Stingrays hosted its first home swim meet of the 2019 summer. Joined by the Albuquerque Dolphins, another club team traveling to compete, kids of all grade school ages took to the pool. It was a friendly site as the Sedillo Park pool facility is 25 yards shorter than regulation size.
Head Coach Diedra Vinson was excited for the first meet of the season. Vinson established the program more than 20 years ago and has since returned as head coach for her first year back after a hiatus due to health issues.
“The kids are looking amazing out there,” she said. “A level of improvement each week is obvious. We’re still working on starts off the block and technique, especially staying in lanes. My philosophy as a coach is for kids to be coachable. Hit the pool and try your hardest because I’m going to push you but always make sure that you’re having fun in the end.”
More than 40 kids competed in the June 22 event. Age ranges were 8-14 with boys and girls hitting the pool in all of the usual swimming styles. Local parent Mandy Durkin was the meet’s announcer while several SHS students helped out with coaching and timing duties during the hectic afternoon event.
Coach Robert Wall was the visiting Dolphins head coach and even took to the water himself in between kids competition. He has been coaching youth swimming off and on for more than 40 years.
“We love swimming in Socorro,” he said. “Being in the pool is extremely important for the kids as they develop so anytime we can get them out here is crucial. It teaches them basic life skills. Focusing, planning, getting up on time, punctuation. This sport is about getting into the little things with a lot of love which is why we are so pleased that the city of Socorro welcomed us for a fun day.”
Pop up tents were set up around the pool’s perimeter with swimming parents selling concessions such as drinks, brownies, chips and homemade burritos. Ashley Lower was one of several local mom’s who was up before the sun came up cooking and preparing food for the kids and visiting spectators.
“It takes a lot to do this,” She said. “There is a ton of donated time from parents, just ask Coach Vinson. So much help has to go into little stuff as simple as pop up tents for events like this. But we as a group of swim parents do it for these kids to see smiles on their faces. I love it. Words cannot describe how happy I am watching my kids swim.”
The eight and under Stingrays will be at the YMCA facility in Albuquerque on June 29 followed by the New Mexico Games competition on July 7 at West Mesa. The team will also participate in division meets at Riverpoint and the Jewish Community Center in Albuquerque on July 10 and 13. District finals will take place July 20 at the West Mesa pool.